Your student, financial, and HR information system may allow you to attach documents to records, but there are significant drawbacks compared to using a Document Management System (DMS). Some of those include:
- Poor Document Search Capabilities
- Being “Locked-In” To Legacy Software
- Weak Document Associations
Poor Document Search Capabilities
Documents attached to records in a student records, financial, or HR information system typically cannot be searched independently of the records they’re attached to. This means that if you need a particular document, but don’t know the student, vendor, or employee, you’re simply out of luck.
One example would be if you created a letter and attached it to a specific student record. Say a few weeks later you had the need for a similar letter, but didn’t rememb
er the name of the original student whose record to which it was originally attached. You would be out of luck. Document Management System software allows document storage, search and retrieval based on document information that is not tied to any particular financial, HR, or student record. This allows you to search for documents directly.
Being “Locked-In” To Legacy Software
Documents that are attached to an information system are typically stored in a proprietary format. If you decide to change systems at a later stage, the export of all of these documents is extremely labor-intensive.
On the other hand, Data Management System software uses standard file formats (e.g., PDF, TIFF, etc.). This means your documents are readily available even if you change to a new information system.
Weak Document Associations
Documents are typically attached to record by means of an “electronic paper clip.” If those “electronic paper clips” fail, you lose the association of the electronic documents to their respective records.
Data Management System software does not ‘attach’ your document in this way, so there is no risk of losing document associations. The documents are attached to their records in a much more secure way.
These are just a few of the many reasons why schools should store electronic documents separately from financial, HR, or student information systems.